EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Carol Emshwiller Talks About ‘The Abominable Child’s Tale’

[Interviewer’s Note: This is a series of interviews featuring the contributors of The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.]

Carol Emshwiller grew up in Michigan and in France and currently divides her time between New York and California. She is the winner of two Nebula Awards for her stories “Creature” and “I Live With You.” She has also won the Lifetime Achievement award from the World Fantasy Convention.

She’s been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and two New York State grants. Her short fiction has been published in many literary and science fiction magazine and her most recent books are the novels Mr. Boots and The Secret City, and the collection I Live With You and You Don’t Know It.


Charles Tan: Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. What’s is it about “fuzzy people” that interests you? What made you decide to finally use Big Foot?

Carol Emshwiller: Fuzzy people? and why big foot? Those questions go together for me. I don’t think I have any special feelings for “fuzzy” people, but I do have for big foot and have for a long time. I love the idea of people who have avoided us all this time and who live in the mountains. They’re smart and wild at the same time. I want them to be beautiful, too. I liked using teenagers in my story because they’re more reckless, they try all sorts of things, and they have an innocence and acceptance of things (OK, so you’re a big foot), that I wanted to use in the story.

CT: In your afterword, you mention that you don’t usually write “on demand”. How does that factor into your life/career as a writer?

CE: I have never ever been able to write “on demand.” I already had this story started and thought it might work for Beastly Bride. I’ve tried before and it never works. I have a hard enough time finding a story I want to write without somebody telling me what it should be about. Besides, I never know where they’ll head though I insist they end up with a plot.

CT: Sabine ends up traveling a lot in your story. Were these locales based on any real experiences?

CE: I placed my story in the mountains that I love though in this story I didn’t describe them as much as I usually do. I had Sabine come down to the little town near me in CA. I can’t hike anymore, but I can imagine my characters there.

CT: What is it about the Beastly Bride concept that appeals to you?

CE: I do like the idea of animals and humans all mixed up… in whatever ways… so I love the idea of The Beastly Bride.